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Just say no to connected cars

Jonny Evans | July 9, 2015
Around 5 percent of new vehicles already include some form of embedded technology inside. But have you thought about the consequences?

The long arm of the law

As the technology evolves, there's every chance that your car will be used to hit you with parking enforcement notices and/or speeding fines. They may just stop operating if they think you are driving erratically. What about vehicle checks? On a state-by-state basis, who will set the parameters for these? Will we see vehicles automatically submitting to checks simply because their registered owner lives life in a different skin tone? There is much opportunity for mendacity and few safeguards in place to prevent such abuse.

Paranoia? Not really. Did you miss Ford executive vice president Jim Farley last year saying, "We know everyone who breaks the law. We know when you're doing it. We have GPS in your car, so we know what you're doing." Ford tried to spin the story away, but why was this said? What systems will connected-car makers put in place to protect customer privacy if law enforcement demands access to these records? Who else will get this data, and how might it be used? Will the FBI demand a back door to your car?

Insurance spies

Five million people worldwide use pay-as-you-drive insurance policies. These are particularly popular among younger drivers, who otherwise get punitive insurance costs. Get ready, then, for insurance firms to offer you similar policies tied to their increasingly granular knowledge of your driving habits. While this will be good in terms of making lower car insurance payments, do you really think insurance firms will be happy to lose the car insurance cash cow without a fight? Of course they won't -- get ready to save on vehicle insurance but see other insurance costs climb. Health? House? Life? One thing's for sure: You seldom hold the cards when dealing with insurers. How high will those premiums go on the strength of one mistake?

The data you could sell with your vehicle

"Farewell, much-loved car," she cried as she waved the vehicle off with its new owner behind the wheel. It was two weeks before she realized that the new owner had managed to use the information she'd left inside her car's systems to crack into her bank account and take the money he had paid back -- and then some.

Hyperbole? Possibly, but think about the steps you have to take when selling any other computer or passing on your phone. You must never neglect to disconnect the system from all your existing logins and accounts, delete the contacts and other data you have stored there, etc. We may know we have to do this, but many of us fail to put it into practice. Smart cars will connect to a wide range of software and services using single account logins. They will carry all your accounts and passwords -- ironically, one day, the most valuable thing about your connected car may be the access it gives to your personal details, bank accounts and enterprise intranet. Smart cars must offer a quick and easy way to delete all this information, even remotely. After all, how often do you leave your bank payment card parked unprotected in the street? And what are the consequences of remotely immobilizing a stolen vehicle when it is running at top speed down a crowded freeway? Are you responsible for the consequential accident, or does responsibility lie with the thief? Significant legal and judicial issues must be resolved.


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